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Misinformation reported by an out-of-of town news broadcasting organization caused headaches for organizers of the recently held Hometown Christmas event that drew thousands into downtown David City.

Hosted by the Hallmark Channel in collaboration with the Butler County Chamber of Commerce, the event was held Oct. 30 in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas movie series that draws in millions of viewers each holiday season. Hallmark executives previously said that David City was the ideal spot for its inaugural Hometown Christmas event because of its ties to Hallmark Cards founder Joyce Hall, who was born and raised there.

To make the event possible, Hallmark Channel donated an undisclosed amount of money that went toward purchasing white lights and an assortment of other decorations to bring the downtown area to life with Christmas spirit. 

Although the event was a booming success, it was marred in the days following after a story was posted by a news TV organization stating that David City received $100,000 from Hallmark Channel for the event, which was factually incorrect and not said to the outlet, according to Chamber Director Kelcie Keeling.

It’s suspected that the incorrect figure reported came from previous information provided about a generous gift provided by Hall to the community decades ago, she noted.

“The Hall family has been very generous to the community and county, giving $100,000 in 1983, which began the foundation and continues to have a huge impact,” a provided statement from a local event committee says regarding the inception of the Butler County Area Foundation Fund. “The event on October 30th was not associated with the donation in 1983. ‘Christmas Comes Early to David City’ was completely funded through Hallmark Channel.”

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Keeling said that after a bunch of back and forth between Hallmark and the news broadcasting organization, the story was revised on Saturday, Nov. 2, before being taken off its website on Monday, Nov. 4.

Making matters more complicated, Keeling said that one of her committee member unwittingly spoke on the record with a reporter from the news organization that led to information being published, which Keeling noted she and others felt was misconstrued.

Ultimately, the issue was resolved, but initially Hallmark executives were very unhappy with the situation that followed an event that was so well-received, Keeling said.

“I was dealing with Hallmark Channel, because they didn’t want that false report to follow their brand after such an amazing event,” Keeling said. “The timing of it was just awful. But to me, I keep hearing more of the positives that then negatives from what occurred from that article.

“I know that everyone is still just in awe and happy that this event occurred. It’s something that we have never had at this level in David City. Just this morning (Tuesday) I already had three phone calls from residents that are still like, ‘I can’t believe that happened, it was amazing.’”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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News Editor

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and The Banner-Press newspapers. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015.

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